Receiving a mood disorder diagnosis can feel like getting slapped with a scary label. And although one out of 10 people live with a mood disorder, it can make you feel like you’re alone.
But a diagnosis isn’t just a label — it’s a way to get answers. And it doesn’t mean you’re alone — it means you have a tribe. There are others who can help you navigate the world with a mood disorder. They’re waiting to tell you, “I’m here.”
To let people know they’re not alone, we teamed up with the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance and its “I’m Here” campaign, and asked people who live with mood disorders to tell us one thing they want someone who’s been recently diagnosed to know.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. “‘When you know better, you do better’ applies to mental illness, too. Now that you have a diagnosis and know what you’re dealing with, you’ll be able to find treatments that will make your life better.” — Meg LeRoy Schlagenhauf
2. “Life can get better when you have a mood disorder. Many people have them! Get out, talk to a therapist and try not to seclude yourself. I’ve been on both sides — I’ve kept myself isolated, and it just made me feel worse. That’s not the way to do it.” — Pamela Scott
3. “I would say never ever give up the fight for life. Remain positive and try to keep the negative out of your mind. Keep moving and do the simple things. Don’t fall in to the trap and think you’re worthless. Keep your head high.” — Colin Tawhai
4. “I’m here if you ever need me. It may take time finding the right combination of therapy, self-care and medications, but take it one day at a time and trust your instincts. Be cautious, keep asking questions, educate yourself… and don’t settle until you’re happy with where you’re at.” — Anita Soule
5. “You are not alone. There are so many of us out in the world fighting mood disorders. Find a group or at least one person who is dealing with it, too. You can help each other so much. Life may have thrown this disease at you, but you can get through this and come out the other side even stronger.” — Jessica Fosnaugh
6. “Truly have hope. The journey is long, but you are stronger than you could ever imagine. Don’t hide. Don’t be embarrassed. There are so many others touched by the same things.” — Andrea Armstrong
7. “Keep going! Talk to your doctors, take your meds, let your doctors know what’s working and what’s not. Make yourself go out with friends, get outside, exercise, whatever you used to enjoy. It’s hard, some days it will feel impossible! But you can do it and it will help.” — Crystal Toner
8. “Take your meds. Be part of your own treatment. Care about getting better. Get your family and friends involved. You can do it.” — Athena MacDonald
9. “A mood disorder doesn’t mean you are less than anyone else, you just have to work a little harder some days. Some days are going to really suck, but you are strong and you will get through this. Don’t isolate or push everyone away. People want to be there for you and support you. Let them.” — Danielle Hark
10. “Be kind and understanding of yourself. You may have days where you feel like you’ve slipped back a few steps. That’s OK. Acknowledge that and tomorrow move forward again. I wish all of us continued healing and growing. No matter what our mental health issue is, we are worthy of love and support.” — Bonnie Kirsch
11. “Read and educate yourself, plus the people around you. It may come down to joining a support group online or in your community, but it really helps you not feel so along.” — Mardi Taggart
12. “It’s not the end of the world. Yes, it feels that way now, but you can get stable. Get a good psychiatrist and therapist and a good support system. These will be as important as the medicine you take. And lastly, take care of yourself.” — Athena MacDonald
13. “You will have hard days. There will be times you won’t/can’t get out of bed, times when you wonder if your meds are working, moments where you ask, “Why me?” So yes, there will be bad days, but there will also be just as many good days. Good days that make you feel so alive you’ll forget about the bad times. Days when you watch the sunrise, spend time with family and friends and do things that put a smile on your face. A diagnosis is not what defines us as a person, only we have the ability to decide what we become.” — Casandra Little
14. “Medications can take time to get right, so hang in there through the bad times and look towards the better times. Best of luck in your fight, everyone.” — Christopher Mulcahy
15. “You are still a person. The same person you always were. You might find people treat you differently. Set your own boundaries and look after yourself.” — Natasha Rose
16. “I’m listening.” — Bonnie Kibbe Reinhardt
17. “Some days will be harder than is conceivable, but those days will make you stronger than you ever dreamed you could be! Be a warrior every day.” — Jean Vinyard-Vickers
*Answers have been edited and shortened for brevity.
To learn more about DBSA’s “I’m Here” campaign, click here.
I’m here… is a program brought to you by DBSA made possible through the support of Rebecca’s Dream® Foundation.